Egg Nog and Assholes
“So do you think he’s coming?” Mark the accountant asked.
It wouldn’t be fair to say he was drunk but if you were to search Mark’s desk drawers it’s fair to say you’d find a bottle that didn’t have the cola in it that was advertised on the label. No, he wasn’t drunk, but he was in a county quite near to that.
“Norbin? He didn’t show last year, did he? Or the year before. So there’s your answer – no.” Connie, the secretary piped up. Connie, while not drunk, was still a bit soft around the edges thanks to a pain pill she’d taken for a back problem that had stopped being a problem about a year earlier.
“Well, I mean, you never know, right? There’s still a half an hour, I mean, he could show. His appointment was three hours ago so I am sure it’s over by now.” Libbie, one of the three real-live cube dwellers in the office, the other two commiserating over a cake Connie had brought in and wondering over whether it was pot they smelled in it or a lost sock.
“Come on Libs, isn’t a bit convenient that he always has a last minute appointment at just about the same time we have our holiday party thing? I have been here for five years and it’s been the same for all five. Hell, Connie’s been here for twelve and it has always been that way, hasn’t it Con?” This from Span, short for Spanish, which was a nickname he had had before any of the others save for Connie had known him. Span the computer guy; Span who knew how to work the computer system so it didn’t look like anyone had been looking at internet pages all day instead of working on their assignments. Good old Span.
“It’s true. He never comes to these, just puts up the announcement with the date, which is always a day before the holidays, and then that we’re closed for a week, without pay of course, and then that it’s pot luck. A couple days before the party he’ll tell me he has an appointment and is gone for the party. There ya go. That’s it. Yippee!” Connie sitting down hard in a chair as she says this, the mistletoe in her hair falling out, her skirt twisting beneath her, and her hose slipping a little as she smiles blearily and shrugs.
“Well, I dunno, whatever. Still pretty cool that we get the party. I mean, shit, all my other jobs just gave you some stupid store discount for the holidays and nothin’ else. Whoo! Awesome. This is sorta fun.” Libbie shrugging now as she eats one of the brownies her mom had made the night before, her fourth, of the party, and tenth of the day, not that anyone had to know. She knew though, as she kept looking at herself in the bathroom mirror once every hour.
“No, you’re right. It’s cool. It’s cool to have the party. Shit, the guy’s an asshole but I’ll give him this, he does let us have the party. It ain’t a bonus, but it’s something, right?” This from Thom Sinclair, one of the other cubies, who came up to the others with a plate of cake and a mug in his other hand. Sinclair who had fucked Connie the first week he’d been there, three years ago, but who refused to admit it had happened, even to the woman in question.
Silence now the new guest at the party as everyone took in what Sinclair had said.
“Come on, the guy’s a penny pinchin’ asshole. It is what it is. Hell, I even got a bonus when I was peddlin’ fuckin’ papers man. What’s that shit? But fuck it, ya know? A job is a job. Hey Connie, the cake ain’t bad. Nice job. Better than last year, for sure.” Connie raises her hand and waves. Sinclair wanders back to Marianne, the new girl, new cubie, and new mother who had misplaced the baby’s father.
No one had much to say after that. Libbie finished her brownie and headed back into the bathroom. Lou the late night janitor came in and grabbed a brownie, a sandwich that Span had brought, and moved to the punchbowl for some eggnog. He stood at the bowl for a moment before putting his cup down and heading towards the back of the office and his supply room. He was hoping he’d be out of there before eight so he could get to the mall and get something for his wife before the stores closed.
“Hey, hey, someone spit in that punch there. Big looger. Nasty shit man. Some nasty shit.” And with that Lou was gone. Everyone looked over at the punchbowl, then to Sinclair, who had made some tea earlier and was still drinking it, and everyone put their cups down. Mark looked at his watch and cleared his throat to speak.
“Come on kids, class is over. Time to get outta here. Leave the stuff for Lou, in case he wants to take any of it home or whatever. Yeah…” Mark dumped his plate of food – some lousy cake, a dry brownie, a wet sandwich, and the pasta salad he’d bought that tasted every bit the two days old that the container had advertised when he’d bought it – and made for his office. Connie ate the rest of the piece of cake on her plate and started shutting her computer down. Libbie, out of the bathroom now, gave Sinclair’s back a look best left unspoken, she another who had known him for a night. Span cleared up some of the mess left from the food and asked Libs if she needed a ride home. Marianne moved Sinclair’s hand from her ass, said something under a furrowed brow and brewing breath and left quickly to get her coat from her cubicle. Sinclair smiled and moved over to the punch bowl and dropped another thick loogie into it.
One by one they left, the snow emerging from the darkness and slowly drawing a white blanket over the ground. One by one the cars were started, were brushed off, and disappeared into the night and to parties with families, or friends, or a night spent alone, though the one who went home to that never admit to as much. None of them noticed Mr. Norbin’s car as it sat cold and still in the back of the lot, beneath a burned out light.
Inside the building there was a soft knock at Mr. Norbin’s door before it was opened. Mr. Norbin was sitting quietly at his desk listening to a small radio through an old pair of headphones.
“They gone?” Asked Mr. Norbin as he took the headphones off.
“Yup, they’re gone, it’s safe.”
“Good. Christ, I thought they’d cut out early like usual but every time I looked out there they were still here. Who the hell stays the whole day when the boss is gone I ask you? Who?” Norbin turned the radio off and stood, stretching as he did.
“Well, they’re dedicated, you know.”
“Sure they are Lou, sure. That’s why they play around on the computer all the time and fudge their hours. Sure. Ah, well, to hell with it. Anything good to eat out there?”
Again, Lou smiled.
“Well, there’s some eggnog with some loogies in it, but the rest of it was ok. Cake’s better this year. Come on, I got some of that brandy you like and I think there’s a sandwich left.”
“Ah, Lou, what would I do without ya, pal?” Norbin clapped Lou on the back. Lou who may have been the oldest in the office but whose smile made him look ten years younger.
“Well, without me, you’d be drinkin’ some nasty eggnog, that’s what boss. Nasty. So, you get the checks all written out and all?”
“Yup, they’re done. Did it last night before bed, meaning Dotty was pissed but, well, that dog is always mad about something.”
“What’s the charity this year?”
“I took your advice and wrote them to that children’s center over the bridge. Nice place. Took a look at it last week. I think everyone would be pretty satisfied.”
“Good man. It’s a real nice place. Real nice. So you gonna ever tell the rest of ‘em ‘bout it or did you just sign it all in their names like usual?”
“No, no better they don’t know. I figure most folks want their bonus in their hands but you and I, you and I know about legacy and all that. And, you know, hell, it’s a write off.” Norbin laughed and took a bite of sandwich and a drink of brandy.
“Yup, they was right about you, boss.”
“Oh? What’s that, Lou?”
“You’re an asshole, sure enough,”
Norbin began to laugh and Lou joined him and outside the snow kept falling, and falling, and falling, until there was nothing left but a dream.
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